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HomeSPORTSFloyd Mayweather drugs Mikuru Asakura in boxing exhibition match

Floyd Mayweather drugs Mikuru Asakura in boxing exhibition match

Floyd Mayweather is still winning boxing matches, even if they won’t go on his official pro record.

The legendary boxer stopped Japanese MMA fighter and YouTuber Mikuru Asakura at the end of the second round with a big right hand on Sunday’s Rizin Fighting Federation card in Saitama, Japan. It was Mayweather’s second exhibition match this year and his second in Japan since his retirement from pro fights.

Mayweather will reportedly make in the range of $20 million for the bout, which was scheduled for three rounds. Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather’s old rival, was ringside.

“I would like to thank the whole country of Japan,” Mayweather said afterward. “Unbelievable country, unbelievable people. An exciting, incredible turnout. Round of applause for this great competitor right here.”

After an uneventful first round in which Asakura landed some body shots, he had some success in the second round, connecting several times to Mayweather’s head with lefts and rights from a southpaw stance.

But Mayweather, one of the best boxers ever and the highest-grossing combat sports athlete of all time, came back with hard shots of his own. He landed hard to the body right before the finish then set up Asakura for the big right at the second-round bell, which ultimately ended the bout.

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Asakura was slow getting up, and referee Kenny Bayless waved the fight off before either boxer got to his corner after the second.

“Thanks for having me,” Mayweather told the crowd. “I’ll be back.”

Mayweather, 45, acknowledged Pacquiao in attendance in his postfight speech, calling him oddly a “future” world champion. Pacquiao, 43, addressed the fans before the exhibition and again afterward.

Prior to the fight, Pacquiao said Asakura, 30, had traveled to the Philippines to ask him for advice on how to compete against Mayweather. Pacquiao added that he was in attendance to support Asian combat sports. Afterward, Pacquiao said twice that he hopes he’ll be invited back, causing the commentators to speculate that there could be something brewing with Rizin, Mayweather and Pacquiao.

“I hope this is not my last invitation to watch a good fight, a good exhibition,” Pacquiao said.

In a strange scenario before the bout, a man who was supposed to bring Mayweather flowers — a combat sports tradition in Japan — threw the bouquet down on the canvas rather than handing it to Mayweather.

In a strange scenario before the bout, a man who was supposed to bring Mayweather flowers — a combat sports tradition in Japan — threw the bouquet down on the canvas rather than handing it to Mayweather.

In December 2019, Mayweather finished Japanese kickboxing prodigy Tenshin Nasukawa in the first round after three knockdowns. Nasukawa competes at around 120 pounds. Asakura was much closer to Mayweather’s weight, perhaps a bit bigger, on Saturday, though there was no official contracted weight.

In an undercard bout to the Mayweather vs. Asakura headliner, Mayweather’s bodyguard Ray “Jizzy Mack” Sadeghi was knocked out in a boxing match by 135-pound kickboxer Kouzi. There was no weigh-in, but Sadeghi was significantly larger than Kouzi in the ring.

Mayweather had an exhibition bout against Don Moore in May in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Mayweather has said he will participate in another such matchup in the Middle East before the end of the year, though no opponent has been named.

Amanda Serrano defeats Sarah Mahfoud to unify featherweight titles

MANCHESTER, England — Amanda Serrano resumed normal service on Saturday, responding to her second professional defeat earlier this year by picking up another world title with a unanimous-decision win over Sarah Mahfoud.

In a mostly one-sided affair, Serrano earned convincing scores of 99-92, 97-93, 97-93 to unify the world featherweight titles at the AO Arena. She rebounded from a decision loss to Ireland’s Katie Taylor for all four world lightweight titles in April.

Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KO), ESPN’s No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter and No. 1 featherweight, now holds three of the four world title belts at 126 pounds. It was her 14th win in 16 world title fights.

Erika Cruz (15-1, 3 KOs), 32, from Mexico, holds the WBA featherweight title and is a potential future opponent for Serrano if she wants to become undisputed world champion. Another option for Serrano would be to step up a division again and face the winner of the junior lightweight title unification clash between Americans Mikaela Mayer (17-0, 5 KOs), the IBF and WBO junior champion, and Alycia Baumgardner (12-1, 7 KOs), the WBC titleholder, who meet in London on Oct. 15.

For Serrano, a Brooklyn-based Puerto Rican, Saturday’s fight marked a convincing return following a split-decision defeat to Taylor (21-0, 6 KOs) at Madison Square Garden. Serrano did her best work in the first half of the fight, before allowing Mahfoud to assert herself more in the later rounds, but the decision was never in doubt.

Mahfoud (11-1, 3 KO), 32, from Denmark, was making a second defense of her IBF title. In the biggest fight of her career, she quickly discovered Serrano’s experience and ring IQ were too much for her to overcome.

Serrano, 33, had not fought at 126 pounds for just over a year but looked sharp, and her punches were a lot more powerful than what Mahfoud could respond with.

Serrano, 33, had not fought at 126 pounds for just over a year but looked sharp, and her punches were a lot more powerful than what Mahfoud could respond with.

By the fourth round, Mahfoud was in survival mode as Serrano loaded up and looked to land big shots.

Serrano’s pace dipped a bit in Round 6, but she caught Mahfoud with a big overhand right in the seventh. Mahfoud never landed anything significant, as Serrano darted in and out of range to land her shots.

Mahfoud bravely rallied in the last round, attacking Serrano like she had never done before in the fight to make it a difficult end for the champion, but it otherwise was a stroll toward another title triumph.

Joe Joyce KO’s Joseph Parker in 11th round to position himself for world heavyweight title shot

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND — Joe Joyce provided more proof he is ready for a world heavyweight title shot by coming through a fierce fight to knock out Joseph Parker in the 11th round Saturday.

In an enthralling encounter, Parker had spells of dominance in the early rounds before Joyce took control in the sixth and then finished off his opponent with a swiping left hook.

The English boxer captured the vacant WBO “interim” belt — less prestigious than the WBO world title held by Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk — to supposedly secure a world title shot in 2023.

While WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and former WBA-IBF-WBO champ Anthony Joshua are in talks for a fight at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, on Dec. 3, their fellow Englishman Joyce put himself forward as an alternative option for Fury.

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Like Fury, Joyce is promoted by Frank Warren in the U.K., and unlike Joshua, he is in winning form after beating New Zealand’s Parker at the AO Arena in Manchester. Those are two factors, along with Joyce’s availability and willingness to fight Fury, putting the Londoner in the frame to possibly face Fury next.

Joyce said: “It was a tough fight, I had to dig deep to get through the rounds. I hit him with everything I had, kitchen sink, body shots, he came through it all.”

Joshua has lost on points to WBA-IBF-WBO champion Usyk in his past two fights yet has received an offer from Fury to fight him next, which leaves Joyce to wait and hope talks between Fury and Joshua fall through.

This win at least secures a WBO title shot for Joyce, but he might have to wait deep into 2023 for it. Usyk is recovering from injury after outpointing Joshua on Aug. 20, and if he pursues a title unification fight with the WBC champion as his next fight, Joyce will have to get in the queue.

And further down that queue will be Parker.

After rebuilding his career following losses to Joshua and Dillian Whyte in 2018, Parker faces another period of restoring his career after a two-defense reign as WBO titleholder from 2016 to 2017.

The New Zealander started aggressively behind his jab, and at one point drove Joyce across the ring with a series of short jabs. Parker also landed a good right hook later in the first round, but Joyce was more active in the second round.

Parker escaped serious damage by moving out of the corner with Joyce poised to land big shots on more than one occasion.

Both exchanged big right hooks early in a thunderous third round, and later in the session Parker jolted back Joyce’s head with uppercuts as he began to impose some authority.

Joyce kept coming forward, and Parker kept finding him with big shots. In the fourth, Parker landed a huge right hand — but Joyce hardly flinched.

With Fury shouting advice and encouragement from ringside, Parker seemed to have the better of the early rounds but his defense fell apart in the sixth. It was a turning point and Joyce wobbled Parker with a series of shots in the seventh round.

Joyce landed a big overhand right later in the round to split open a cut above Parker’s right eye, which produced a steady stream of blood down the New Zealander’s face.

Joyce increased the punch rate in the eighth round, while Parker dabbed at his cut and looked at the point of being overwhelmed.

Joyce landed more in a thrilling 10th, though Parker rallied to end the round with a volley of shots.

But Parker looked vulnerable, with blood pouring from above his eye, and in the 11th round Joyce uncorked a big left hook to send him falling backward. It was a heavy knockdown and after Parker got to his feet at the count of eight, referee Steve Gray stopped the fight after one minute and 3 seconds.

Joyce, who recently turned 37, cannot afford to take it easy and whomever he faces for a title, next year sets up as his optimum time given the form he is in and his age.

Terri Harper defeats Hannah Rankin by unanimous decision, wins WBA junior middleweight title

Less than a year after losing her junior lightweight title, Terri Harper moved up multiple divisions and took another crown.

Harper beat Hannah Rankin by unanimous decision Saturday in Nottingham, England, to win Rankin’s WBA junior middleweight title, a massive change for the former WBC junior lightweight champion. All three judges scored the fight for Harper 98-92, 98-92 and 97-93.Harper (13-1-1, 6 KOs) caused a cut over Rankin’s left eye early in the fight, causing Rankin to bleed all over Harper’s white top by the middle rounds.

It was Harper’s aggression, though, that stood out throughout the fight. She consistently went after Rankin (12-6, 3 KOs) and showed enough speed to evade most of Rankin’s attempts to attack.

Harper appeared incredibly comfortable in her new weight division, showing the speed agility of a lighter fighter with enough power to hang at 154 pounds.

“I don’t think [it] is crazy,” Harper said about moving up three divisions for the fight. “I have confidence in myself and the team had confidence in me and obviously [Matchroom promoter] Eddie [Hearn] believed in me. That’s why they’ve invested a lot of money in me to give me this opportunity, and I’m just glad I got the job done.”

It’s a big win for Harper, who before this was perhaps best known for being knocked out in devastating fashion by Alycia Baumgardner last November to lose her WBC title.

This win puts Harper into a legitimate conversation in multiple divisions going forward. It also makes her a multidivision champion — a long way from what her future looked like a little less than a year ago.

Harper, who had a split draw with Natasha Jonas in a lightweight bout in 2020, said her goal is to face Jonas, who now has the WBC and WBO junior middleweight world titles, in a rematch at 154 pounds.

“Yes, that’s why I went this way and why I needed to get the win tonight.”

Matchroom boxing promoter Eddie Hearn files $100M defamation suit against Jake Paul

Jake Paul’s foray into boxing may include a fight inside a courtroom.

Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, one of the sport’s most influential promoters, filed a lawsuit Friday against Paul alleging defamation after recent Paul accusations that Matchroom paid off a judge in two separate fights this year, per a document obtained Saturday by ESPN.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Matchroom and Hearn attorney Frank Salzano told ESPN that his clients are seeking more than $100 million in damages. TMZ was the first to report news of the lawsuit.

“Both legally and ethically there is a clear line separating opinion from defamatory lies,” Salzano said. “Jake Paul knows that, and he purposely crossed that line when he wrongly accused Matchroom Boxing and Eddie Hearn of fixing fights. Nonetheless he was still given an opportunity to retract his defamatory statements and refused to.”

In an interview last week with IFL TV, Paul said he believed boxing judge Glenn Feldman was getting paid by Matchroom to score bouts for that promotion’s fighters. Feldman was a judge on a bout between Amanda Serrano and Katie Taylor in New York on April 30 and also scored the Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua rematch last month in Saudi Arabia.

Taylor won a split decision, with two judges, including Feldman, ruling in favor of her. Usyk also won a split decision with Feldman the only judge scoring the bout for Joshua. Taylor and Joshua are Matchroom fighters. Serrano is part of Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions and Paul and Hearn co-promoted Taylor vs. Serrano, the first-ever female boxing headliner at Madison Square Garden.

“It’s like a repeated crime here,” Paul told IFL TV. “This type of s—, I’m going to call it out here in boxing because it’s bulls—. Clearly, this guy (Feldman) is getting paid money by Matchroom Boxing.”

Paul’s team was not immediately available for comment Saturday. Paul first made his name as a wildly popular YouTube star and social-media influencer before compiling a 5-0 pro boxing record over the last three years. Last year, Paul began promoting fights, too.

Salzano notes in the complaint against Paul that Hearn has said publicly that he himself scored the Usyk vs. Joshua bout for Usyk and the Taylor vs. Serrano contest was a close, Fight of the Year candidate. The attorney also wrote that Paul admitted in the interview that he was making a “bold statement” with regards to the allegations and that the judges were hired by respective commissions in the Middle East and New York, not Matchroom.

“Such accusations are obviously deeply offensive as well as damaging to [Hearn and Matchroom],” wrote Salzano, a partner in the New York law firm Salzano, Lampert & Wilson, LLP. “They are also patently false.”

Paul’s statements caused what Salzano describes in the complaint as a “media and social media frenzy undoubtedly exacerbated by [Paul’s] enormous social media following.” The complaint reads that a jury trial in the case is “demanded.”

“[Paul’s] defamatory statements were made with malicious intent and have caused financial and reputational harm to [Hearn and Matchroom], which is precisely what [Paul] intended when he made the outlandish accusations,” Salzano wrote.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. says Japanese fans will ‘see the old pretty boy’ in exhibition fight

TOKYO — The undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr. says Japanese fans will be able to “see a glimpse of the old pretty boy” when he fights the Manny Pacquiao-trained Mikuru Asakura in a three-round exhibition on Sunday.

The 45-year-old Mayweather told reporters on Saturday that he is in good condition for the clash with Asakura, 30, a mixed martial artist specialist who is making his boxing debut at the Saitama Super Arena north of Tokyo.

There are no weight restrictions for the bout. “It’s all about having fun,” said Mayweather, who has a perfect 50-0 record.

His long-time Filipino rival Pacquiao, a champion in eight weight divisions, also appeared at Saturday’s press conference.

“Asakura has something to prove tomorrow,” Pacquiao said after a friendly back and forth exchange with Mayweather.

Asakura, who usually weighs about 165 pounds, is more Mayweather’s size than the last opponent the American great met in Japan three years ago.

Mayweather floored kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa, a bantamweight who fights at around 120 pounds, three times as he scored a first-round win in another exhibition bout.

“I don’t care if my face gets punched out,” Asakura said Friday. “I think he underestimates me so please tell him it’s not going to be as easy as he thinks.”

Mayweather said he doesn’t need money and is doing exhibitions to travel and meet new people.

Ringside seats are going for as much as 1 million yen ($7,000) and the event has several pay-per-view deals.

According to reports, Mayweather is receiving around $200 million. “Boxing is like breathing for me,” he said.

Shakur Stevenson routs Robson Conceicao by unanimous decision; 130-pound titles stay vacant

Shakur Stevenson lost his two 130-pound titles at the scales, but he still cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Robson Conceicao on Friday before an announced crowd of 10,107 in Newark, New Jersey.

Two judges scored the bout 117-109, while the third judge had it 118-108 for Stevenson, who floored Conceicao with a left hand to the sternum with one second remaining in Round 4.

“I killed myself to make weight,” said Stevenson, ESPN’s No. 9 pound-for-pound boxer. “He held me the whole night, but I did everything I could. I think that he was doing a lot of holding whenever I got to the inside.”

Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs) was stripped of his WBC and WBO junior lightweight belts on Thursday after he weighed 131.6 pounds, more than 1½ pounds over the division limit. Conceicao (17-2, 8 KOs) weighed 129.6 pounds and was eligible to win the two belts.

Those titles are now vacant, and the top two available contenders in each organization’s rankings will vie for the belts in the future.

Since Conceicao made weight, he would have earned his $200,000 purse even if the fight didn’t take place. Instead, Stevenson paid Conceicao a $150,000 financial penalty from his $3 million purse, sources tell ESPN, part of a side agreement to allow the fight to proceed.

“Respect to him,” Stevenson said, “but everybody want that kind of paycheck.”

The title bid was Conceicao’s second following a September 2021 decision defeat to Oscar Valdez. Conceicao was at a competitive disadvantage in that bout, too; Valdez tested positive for a banned substance weeks before the fight.

The decision loss to Valdez was disputed, but the defeat to Stevenson was anything but.

In a homecoming bout, Stevenson displayed all the tools that made him a two-division champion and a pound-for-pound fighter at age 25. His southpaw jab, one of the sport’s best, set the tempo and opened Conceicao’s guard for a stinging left hand that inflicted plenty of damage.

Conceicao, a 33-year-old Brazilian, dug to the body with effective right hands early on, but Stevenson’s shots were more precise and compact.

Stevenson’s sharp punches disrupted Conceicao’s rhythm, a predictable attack that featured bundles of looping right hands that he set up with a jab. The Olympic gold medalist loaded up on the power shots, and many met their mark, but few seemed to land clean nor have any effect on Stevenson.

The challenger found more success in Round 3 with some flush left hands delivered from awkward angles, but the attack never sustained long enough to build any momentum.

Stevenson broke through in the closing moments of Round 4 with the knockdown, which appeared to shift the trajectory of the fight for good.

Shakur connected with a powerful left cross with 20 seconds left in Round 6 that stunned Conceicao, before he walked him down to deliver a damaging hook in the waning seconds.

Conceicao bounced back in Round 8 on the strength of a series of flush right hands — the first round he won on one scorecard — but Stevenson’s pressure was beginning to take its toll.

Usually, Stevenson elects to box from the outside, but he was aggressive on this night, particularly down the stretch. He was deducted one point in Round 9 for tossing Conceicao to the mat; Stevenson complained his opponent was leaning on his neck.

He began to land with more regularity over the final three rounds as Conceicao absorbed the punishment, but he was never in serious danger of being stopped.

“He real awkward and he real tough, so he know how to survive,” Stevenson said. “I was trying to fight. I wanted to stand there and beat him up. And he was grabbing and holding.”

The victory was Stevenson’s second of 2022 after an April decision rout of Valdez that also featured a knockdown. That win added a second title to Stevenson’s collection after an October 2021 TKO of Jamel Herring grabbed him his first 130-pound title.

Now, those titles are history after Stevenson’s mishap on Thursday, an event the fighter conceded he was embarrassed by.

“I’m tough, even through my hard times I still find a way to push through,” said Stevenson, ESPN’s No. 1 junior lightweight. Conceicaco was rated No. 8 following a dominant victory over Xavier Martinez in January.

Stevenson added: “I learned that I’m real tough.”

He’ll have plenty of opportunity to put it all in the past as he begins his campaign at lightweight, a division that features far more talent than the divisions Stevenson competed in.

“Everybody at 135 [pounds] gotta get it,” he said. “We gotta fight the champ. Me and Devin [Haney], we can lock it in after he fights [George] Kambosos [on Oct. 15]. I’ll fight [Vasiliy] Lomachenko, too.”

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